Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bodies And Temples

In this weeks gospel Jesus gets angry. He gets violent. He scares people. For many it is the most confusing thing Jesus does. Why does he do it?
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,Jesus went up to Jerusalem.He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,as well as the money-changers seated there.He made a whip out of cordsand drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,and spilled the coins of the money-changersand overturned their tables,and to those who sold doves he said,“Take these out of here,and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,Zeal for your house will consume me.At this the Jews answered and said to him,“What sign can you show us for doing this?”Jesus answered and said to them,“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”The Jews said,“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,and you will raise it up in three days?”But he was speaking about the temple of his Body.Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,his disciples remembered that he had said this,and they came to believe the Scriptureand the word Jesus had spoken.
Why does he do it? Because he is consumed with zeal for the house of God. It is around the time of the Passover. In the other gospels this story is places right near the crucifixion. It is almost like Jesus is asserting His authority to get the Jews to kill him. John tells us the story from a different angle. He focuses on Jesus love for the temple, His Father's house. Yet there are two temples. Herod's temple that existed in Jesus day and the temple of Jesus's body. The temple, especially at Passover, was a place where God's presence would come to earth. It was the holiest place of earth. In fact one room in it was called the Holy of Holies. 

John is saying Jesus' body is the new temple. That He is the presence of God on earth. He predicts not just His death at the hands of the Jews and His resurrection on the 3rd day but that this would make the temple and the Passover obsolete. 

Today the temple also points to two things. First of all it points to the church. A physical temple is no longer needed. The sacrifice of the mass can be offered anywhere at anytime. It offers us a much more powerful ability to connect with God because it is Jesus' body. If the Eucharist was only a symbol this would not make any sense because a symbolic Lord's Supper cannot replace the Holy of Holies. For Jesus body to make the temple obsolete it has to remain present to us and it has to be holier than the Old Testament temple. Only the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist makes that true.

The other thing the bible compares to the temple is our bodies. Jesus' body is the presence of God on earth. We become that when we are baptized and receive the divine life. Then it becomes important that our bodies be a house of prayer and not a marketplace. 

Marketplaces in Jesus' day were much like they are today in the middle east. They were loud. A lot of confusion. A lot of negotiation. Really just a free for all. The temple was different. There was a center. The Holy of Holies. One man was allowed into that sacred space. That event informed everything else that went on inside the temple. 

St Paul makes the connection with our sexuality. Is our sex life a free for all? Is there negotiations and confusion and really no center? What we need is the Holy of Holies. That is our vocation of marriage or religious life. That needs to dictate what we do with our sacred places but that in turn needs to inform everything else in our lives.     

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